Colonoscopy instruments causes deadly infections

I often warn you about the many dangers of “routine” colonoscopy screenings for colon cancer. Doctors use a type of endoscope to perform this procedure. This instrument can cause tears in the colon. In fact, as a Medical Examiner, I saw many fatal cases of colon perforations linked to these instruments. And now, it appears that endoscopic devices, like colonoscopies, can also cause dangerous–even deadly–infections.

In fact, contaminated endoscopes killed several patients at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center last month. The devices infected hundreds of others and the problems don’t show any signs of stopping.

And, unfortunately, UCLA isn’t the only place with a problem. Cedar-Sinai Medical Center and many other good hospitals across the country now report experiencing similar problems with contaminated endoscopes.

You see, these instruments are notoriously hard to sanitize. They can even harbor dangerous, untreatable, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”

In this case, an investigation found that two out of seven endoscopes used at the UCLA hospital harbored the deadly CRE bacteria (carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae). That’s nearly 29 percent!

Although the hospital sterilized these instruments between uses, it obviously didn’t eliminate all of the dangerous “superbugs.”

CRE bacteria can cause infections of the bladder or lungs, leading to coughing, fever, chills, and respiratory failure. And if CRE bacteria reaches the blood stream, it kills up 50 percent of patients.

Amazingly, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) doesn’t keep national statistics on these deadly bacteria. (Perhaps they should stop spending so much time pushing ineffective and dangerous vaccines on an unsuspecting public. Then they might have more time to deal with these deadly “superbugs.”)

As this story unfolds, I’m sure we’ll hear more and more about endoscopes causing deadly infections. Doctors commonly use these instruments to examine “both ends” of the gastrointestinal tract. In the UCLA outbreak, doctors used the endoscopes in throat examinations. But doctors also use these kinds of endoscopic instruments to perform colonoscopies.

Of course, the gastrointestinal tract should contain helpful bacteria, which are part of the gut’s normal microbiome. These helpful bugs aid digestion and help you maintain a healthy weight. Research links a healthy microbiome with heart and kidney health too. You have to wonder whether introducing endoscopes into the GI tract also alters bacteria in ways that contribute to heart disease, kidney disease, or obesity, as well as potentially introducing deadly infections.

Meanwhile, the mainstream medical complex still encourages everyone to keep getting colonoscopies, the most common endoscopic procedure of all. Fortunately, you have much safer, effective alternatives to screen for colon cancer.

Before your next colonoscopy, make sure to click here.

Next week, I’ll tell you more about the role the FDA plays in perpetuating this disaster. Turns out, they knew about the problems with these endoscopes for years…and did nothing.


  1. “Superbug outbreak extends to Cedars-Sinai hospital, linked to scope,” LA Times ( 3/4/2015